Are You A Republican Or Democrat In The Time Of Trump?

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Are You A Republican Or Democrat In The Time Of Trump?

“Thinking is difficult. That is why most people judge.” Carl Gustav Jung

Whenever I ask someone if they are a Democrat or Republican and they are Republican, there is always a silence or I am asked if that will make a difference in how I treat them. That is how I know that they are Republican in the time of Trump. There is such a widening divide between Democrats and Republicans these days. The divergence is everywhere from Washington to my dinner table. We avoid discussing politics in”mixed company” more than we ever have before. 

I think part of it is the media. We all don’t listen to the same objective  news anymore. Our news is biased. Republicans watch Fox News and Democrats watch MSNBC or CNN . Opinion news is our new reality. Between the internet and all the cable networks, you can now get the news with whatever personal  bias you choose.

If someone on the phone tells me that he is Republican, that fact alone would make me think that he is not black, lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual or  nonreligious. If he says that he is a Democrat, I would assume that he is not Evangelical Christian and does not live in Kentucky. There are plenty of people who break their party’s stereotypes but it is not the first thought that comes into my mind.

We can always blame the Russians. It is said  on my news stations that the trolls and bots (still not 100 per cent sure I understand these words) help to increase the fact that life in America is no longer great. It’s now well-established that Russia attempted to influence the results of the 2016 US Presidential Election though the propagation of online misinformation. Whether it did influence the election, and to what extent collusion occurred and by whom, remains a matter of partisan debate. It is a subject we intensely avoid with people who do not share our political beliefs.

As I learned from traveling, when you talk to people  you find out that we are not as different as we think. If we have different political beliefs, we can always find some common ground. Democracy is based on the idea that people from different cultures and different political beliefs can sit at a table and find a solution for the greater good. What is best for America is more important than whether our party wins or gets what it wants.

 We have always been a country where anything is possible and our destiny is in our own hands. We  face huge challenges but so does the rest of the world. We have always had “the right stuff” to ride out the coming storm. We are not a perfect country but we are founded on the loftiest ideals that any country has every articulated. We have to learn, progress and grow.  

Fly safe,

JAZ

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Ten Beautiful Churches In The World

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Ten Beautiful Churches In the World

“The choir always tittered and whispered all through service. There was once a church choir that was not ill-bred, but I have forgotten where it was, now. It was a great many years ago, and I can scarcely remember anything about it, but I think it was in some foreign country.”  Mark Twain, the Adventures Of Tom Sawyer

If you are building a temple to God, you are going to want it to look good. Lets be honest, you want God to be impressed with your work. You can’t just throw something together at the last moment and hope it will work out. It takes time (800 years sometimes). I have a problem with all the ornate churches in the world. I think it is confusing to God to see all that gold and all the poverty that is always nearby.  But these are quite beautiful and very impressive.  

Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem,Israel

St Peters Basilica,  Rome, Italy

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain

Westminister Abbey, London, England

 Church Of the Spilled Blood, St Petersburg, Russia

Notre Dame,  Paris, France

St Stephens Cathedral,  Vienna, Austria

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Talinn, Estonia

Tempelaukion, Helsinki,Finland

 Mosteiro Dos Jerónimos, Lisbon, Portugal

Fly safe,

JAZ

 

 

 

Ten Countries With The Most Smokers

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Ten Countries With The Most Smokers

“Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.” Mark Twain

As everyone knows, smoking is cool. But it can also kill you and is addictive and expensive, which is much worse than looking cool for a minute.

Bucking the worldwide trend, smokers are increasing in Montenegro. Forty per cent of adults smoke making them the “coolest” country on the list. Even when laws are enacted, they are rarely enforced in a culture where coffee and cigarettes are the norm.

While smoking is declining across Europe, a growing number of young Belarusians are turning to cigarettes due to lax regulations and low prices. Cheap cigarettes from Belarus are also being smuggled into Western Europe.

It is very difficult to enforce anti smoking laws in Lebanon where smoking is somewhat of a cultural tradition.The law that banned indoor smoking irritated many Lebanese accustomed to shishas and cigarettes at restaurants, cafes, pubs and nightclubs.

Greece is a nicotine addicts’s paradise. Smoking regulations in Greece have not been enforced in a country where rules like this are meant to be broken.

One third of the population of Russia smokes. Up to 400,000 Russians die each year from tobacco-related causes. This could be stopped through tougher regulations, but tobacco producers have blocked all efforts for years, successfully lobbying their interests with the ruling United Russia party.

Tobacco is one of the leading causes of death in Slovenia. The average age to start smoking is fifteen and a half years old.

Belgians love to smoke and stores selling cheap cigarettes have opened on the Belgian Franco border. There is a growing trade in smuggled cigarettes in Europe and an equally illegal growth of sales over the internet. Cigarettes are much cheaper in Belgium than neighboring countries. Many bars and restaurants ignore the smoking ban.

Jordan rates highly as far as smoking countries in the Middle East go. The ban on smoking in public places is not enforced.It is easier to fight drug use than cigarettes here. Cigarette smoking is highest among the poor population. Having coffee and cigarettes with friends and family is deeply rooted in Jordanian culture.

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China is home to three hundred million smokers, more than any other country. There is a lack of national legislation to ban smoking in workplaces. The national ban has been delayed because of the influence of the Chinese tobacco industry and its influence on government revenue. Some Local municipalities have banned smoking in the workplace but it is hard to enforce

Almost half the adult population smokes in Bosnia Herzegovina. Cigarettes are cheaper than Europe and Asia. Smokers fight the government against anti smoking legislation. Any bans are not enforced and teenagers smoke at least half a pack of cigarettes a day.

Fly safe,

JAZ

 

Ten Countries That Drink The Most Alcohol

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Ten Countries That Drink The Most Alcohol.

“I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so madly indulge. It has not been in the pursuit of pleasure that I have periled life and reputation and reason. It has been the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness and a dread of some strange impending doom.” Edgar Allan Poe

“Are you over 21 yet””why?“I wanted you to buy me some beer.’

Not all countries have this problem. According to the World Health Organization (where I get a lot of my information for these lists) here are the top ten countries to get drunk in. The best way to measure alcohol consumption anywhere in the world is through the per capita consumption of pure alcohol within a given country.

10. They start drinking young in Slovakia. The average age of tasting your first drink is around ten years old. Fifteen to eighteen year olds are drinking less and men drink more than women.

9. In the Czech Republic people take pride in their drinking and their beer. They have the highest consumption of beer per person in the world, bur for some reason rate low in drunkeness.

8. Hungary is a little more voracious about their drinking than many other countries. It is one of the leading countries in liver cirrhosis mortality in the world.

7. Unlike many countries with high levels of alcohol consumption, Andorra’s economy is fairly prosperous. Andorra is located between France and Spain in the Pyrenees mountains and has an exceptionally strong tourism industry. Wine is the drink of choice.

6. Drinking on various festive occasions is a large part of Ukrainian culture.Heavy alcohol consumption at any occasion in the Ukraine possible. Fourteen is the average age to try alcohol.

5. There is a much higher incidence of alcohol abuse in the villages and rural areas than in the larger cities of Romania. Most of the alcohol in these areas is of the homemade variety.

4. The high number of early deaths in Russia is mainly due to people drinking too much alcohol, particularly vodka. Causes of death include liver disease and alcohol poisoning. Many also die in accidents or after getting into fights.

3. In Lithuania, people use alcohol to feel better and relax. Most beer drinking is done at home. Lithuania scores highly in countries with binge drinking and ten per cent of the population have alcohol related disorders.

2. Citizens of Moldova are some of the world’s biggest drinkers. Moldovans drink nearly three times the global average. The country is poor and a major wine producer, with many people drinking cheap homemade wine, vodka and other spirits.

1.Belarusians are the heaviest drinkers in the world. Alcohol is a major reason of crime, suicide and health problems in Belarus. The idea of a healthy lifestyle remains unpopular especially for older generations and village dwellers. Alcohol remains a profitable business for the state and it has its own influential lobbyists who are actively a work promoting their interests.

Fly and drive safe,

JAZ

The Voice Heard Round The World

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The Voice Heard Round The World

‘Where words fail, music speaks.’ Hans Christian Andersen

I love to be able to travel when I am home. I watch The Voice. Reality TV and coffee are my vices. If you happen to live under a rock, it is a singing competition with celebrity judges. I love the Blind Auditions where the judges have to pick their team by hearing them. The audition is the only reality TV that we have left. You can’t fake an audition. You are actually watching someone vulnerable who’s life can be changed. I like seeing new talent emerge.

One night I was trying to catch up on some auditions, and I came across videos of blind auditions from The Voice Around The World. I was hooked. I’m obsessed with the Italian and the French judges. The Ukrainians and the Russians love heavy metal music and they like to make comments.  The Voice originated in Holland. I have no idea who any of these judges are. I watch the British version now as well. Here are my favorite auditions in no particular order. One is a battle round.

italy, France, Germany, Australia, Ukraine, UK, China, Russia, Holland, Poland.

Music always makes me feel that we are more the same than different.

Fly safe

JAZ

Old World Palaces And Castles

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Palaces and Castles

“ And if she asks you why, you can tell her that I told you, that I’m tired of castles in the air “Don McLean (I love that song)

Castles and palaces are pieces of the past. They are evocative of the people who lived in them many centuries ago. They are rich in folklore and history and often built with astonishing craftsmanship and innovative design. Here are some of the palaces that I have toured. Many of these photos were before I was blogging so less palace and more look I was there shots.

Alhambra – Granada, Spain

fullsizeoutput_5ea7Buckingham Palace – London, England

Buda Castle – Budapest, Hungary (view near castle)

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Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale) – Venice, Italy

Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland

Neuschwanstein – Hohenschwangau, Germany

Pena Palace – Sintra, Portugal

Peterhof, (known as Petrodvorets and Petergof) – Petergof ,Saint Petersburg, Russia

Pitti Palace – Florence, Italy

Prague Castle – Prague, Czech Republic

Schoenbrunn – Vienna, Austria

Trakai Castle – Trakai, Lithuania.

Palace Of Versailles, Versailles, France

Fly safe,

JAZ

Least Friendly Countries In the World

Least Friendly Countries In The World

“I’m a stranger in a strange land.” Carson McCullers 

As any world traveler knows, not every country offers tourists a warm welcome. Everyone does not “like to practice their English” for you English-speaking tourists. Everyone does not like foreigners. Friendliness is rated by attitudes toward foreigners. Here are the least friendly countries in order.

10. Mongolia is not a nation of smiling quaint little Asian people. They come from warrior lineage and showing emotion to strangers is a sign of weakness. It is a cultural difference and that is the way it is. They often seem rude and unfriendly, especially in cities. Once you go out of the city, this is not the case. The challenging nature of nomadic life has shaped the need for the unique hospitality and genuine warmth extended to all travelers and pilgrims. Mongolians believe that the welcome offered a stranger today will be repaid in the future. This concept is at the very root of Mongolia’s centuries-old culture.

9. Bulgaria is about as East as Eastern Europe gets and Eastern Europeans are not friendly. They don’t smile and I don’t speak Bulgarian. I don’t know much about this country. It is not famous for gymnasts or shooting dictators.There is a lot of stuff on the internet about people being rude and ripping off tourists when possible. Least friendly does not mean unsafe. I guess I will go and see for myself and bring a book.

8. Slovaks are not friendly to people they do not know. I am not sure if this reserve is a Slavic trait or a product of the Socialist regime that they lived under for so long. Smiling customer service will not be part of your shopping or dining experience in Slovakia. They want tourism but they can’t figure out how to market themselves. If you need help in English “ask young,” The older people working in train stations and bus terminals do not speak English. There have been several racist incidents in this homogeneous white society that make people not want to return.

7. Latvia is a good place to not ask directions because no one is going to help you. I have been there. The locals are not friendly and if anyone is friendly to you they want something – so be careful. It is my least favorite of all the Eastern European countries that I have been to so far.

6. Pakistan is a country rife with crime and terrorists. Home to the Taliban and other extremist organizations, Pakistan is unsafe and unfriendly.

5. Iran is a tough one. I think it is on this list because it is ruled by savage mullahs who sponsor terrorism. But from everything I have heard, Iranians are welcoming to visitors and happy to see travelers in their country. The President leads chants that say Death To America. There are posters that say Death to Israel and We Have No Homosexuals. This definitely makes it unwelcoming, yet by all accounts, the people are kind and friendly.

4. Kuwait is incredibly hot which probably makes people irritable. Do not expect a warm welcome here. It is a conservative Muslim country and from being around conservative Muslims in my travels, I notice that they avoid eye contact with anyone in Western clothes. There is not a lot to do other than eating vast amounts of food, smoke shisha (hookah) and walk around luxurious shopping malls. Apparently, the locals don’t seem to want foreigners to do that.

3. I was in Russia a while ago. No one spoke English and at that time every sign was written in Cyrillic. It was hard to get around and I tried to learn temporary Cyrillic as fast I could. The no smiling, no small talk is standard Russian behavior. It was still early in the post-Communist era and people were adjusting. The life of a Russian person in Russia had always been hard and a constant struggle. When I was there, they had many issues between this new “free” life and the feeling that life under Communism was easier. It was what they knew. I found the people cold, rude and unfriendly but I never found that with the many Russian immigrants I have met in the States. I understand why it is listed as the third most unfriendly country in the world because that was my experience as well coming from a completely different culture. 

2. Venezuela is a country in crisis.  It is socially, economically, and politically in ruins. Venezuela is full of violent crime, inflation, and corruption. The local people spend half their lives waiting in line at empty supermarkets, bus, train and gas stations. Hospitals are empty because there is no medicine in this oil-rich country.  The black market is so much cheaper than inflated prices so everyone carries cash. Tourists are robbed by both criminals and police. Traffic accidents are common because cars don’t stop at street lights for fear of being robbed. Protests are daily and often turn violent. Venezuela is a dangerous country and not on most people’s list to travel to right now. Everyone is way too worried about their own safety and precarious future to be friendly to strangers. 

1. Bolivia took the dubious honor of being the most unfriendly country in the world. I know you probably thought it would be the French. I’m not sure I get this one. The only Bolivians I have met were in Northern Argentina selling hand-made souvenirs and coca leaves for altitude sickness in the Altiplano. It is the most extensive high altitude plateau outside of Tibet -4000 meters high. Chewing coca leaves and drinking coca tea is very helpful for avoiding altitude sickness. The legality of coca leaves in Buenos Aires is questionable but it is medicinal in the Altiplano and they bring it in from Bolivia. Some Bolivians were friendlier than others but no one was rude. I’ve always found South Americans to be kind and helpful and I can’t find any information on why it is number one. It is an odd choice for a poor, beautiful country that needs tourism. I’m definitely going anyway.

 

Fly safe,

JAZ